5 quick ways to boost your productivity at work

Posted on Sep 19, 2023

typing and tools

We know that we have to take care of our basic needs before we can effectively accomplish the bigger stuff.

But in practice, we often attempt to tackle complex work while ignoring these “little” things: thirst, a headache, needing a nap, even needing to pee. 

Everything becomes easier when we flip this script.

Everything becomes easier when I flip the script: first take care of my needs, then tackle the complex work.

Mandy Kubicek

Back-to-back video conferences can make this especially hard, as do frequent questions or requests from teammates. If you’re in this boat, here are 5 ideas to meet your needs in real time, without making any dramatic changes to your workplace’s culture.

Buffer time.

Studies have shown that we need a 10-minute break to clear our minds when switching intellectual gears so we’re fully capable of creative thought again.

If your workplace uses Google, use the “speedy meetings” setting so that by default, your meetings end at :25 or :50 to allow buffer time. Ask the C-Suite (is that you?) to implement this practice company-wide.

Pre/post routines.

Create a pre- and/or post-meeting routine for yourself.

Do you want to step outside for one full breath of fresh air after every meeting? Will you close your eyes and think of something you’re grateful for before clicking Join? Could you create a visual reminder of your intention (e.g. to feel relaxed, to be curious) to glance at throughout the day?

Body scan.

To recognize our needs, we have to move our awareness from our busy past- and future-focused brain to our physical sensations.

Before starting a task, do a mental body scan (What do I feel in my scalp, face, neck? How do my shoulders feel? … Continuing down to your toes.) Then, give yourself what you need, or acknowledge what you need with a plan and a promise to do so soon. For example, you might stand up and stretch, or create a reminder to ask your partner for a massage after dinner.

“Yes, and not now.”

Saying No (or what feels like No) is difficult for many of us for very logical reasons having to do with our culture. Instead of hoping it will be easy, you can literally make it easier by removing some of the on-the-fly decision making.

Establish a go-to script for saying “not now” to colleagues. For example: “I really want to hear what you’re saying, and I can’t give you my full attention right this second. Could you come back in 10 minutes / tomorrow after lunch / in the morning?”

Weekly cleanse.

Once a week (e.g. Mondays at 9 AM), block 15-50 non-negotiable minutes on your calendar for planning.

Use this time to review or create your success list and calendar entries. Then, recall your definition of success. (Stay employed. Cure cancer. Feel rested.) Compare your plan to the most important next steps for your success. Cut and rearrange accordingly.

Flipping this script—listening to your body and addressing your own needs before those of others—is an ongoing practice for many of us. So don’t be hard on yourself. And do take one tiny step today.

Which idea are you willing to try in the next 24 hours?

I’m here to celebrate your baby steps with you! Here’s how to reach out.